(29) Blog Posts Made in August 2015

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Track Closure

Monday, August 31st 2015

On Wednesday 2nd September the entrance track to Foxglove will be closed for maintenance. We apologise for the inconvenience this will cause, but it will be to everyone’s advantage once the track is again free from potholes! The reserve will remain open as usual but visitors should expect to park on the parade square and walk from the main entrance gate. With this in mind, there will be no moth trapping on Tuesday night.

Bank Holiday Monday was very quiet at Foxglove, with only a handful of visitors. It was a grey and damp day with a definite autumnal feel about it. Some of the leaves are starting to change to reds and browns and the fruits and berries are ripening well.  Mike, one of or regular visitors, got good sightings of one of the Roe Deer this morning, down on the wildfowl feeding platform.

The freshly cut hay meadow smelt particularly fragrant in the damp air. We are waiting for some good drying weather so this can be baled and removed from the reserve. 

Once this is cleared we will be able to put livestock onto the site to help trample the wildflower seeds into the earth.

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What a Day!

Sunday, August 30th 2015

The title and photos for the blog today, had already been decided, Carnivores!  However people went out and about and came back with species galore so the blog has changed!

Grass of Parnassus as can be seen from the photograph is not a grass at all.  It has five stamens, which alternate around the centre of the flower, with the same number of delicately fringed modified stamens.  It is fainly scented like honey and this along with the veins on the petals attract insect pollinators.

Grass of Parnassus

Some flowers have already set seed.

Grass of Parnassus seed head

One species that does fit under the carnivore umbrella is this Eyed Ladybird, found sitting on the rail of a bridge along Risedale Beck.

Eyed Ladybird

Ann and Lesley went for a walk armed with cameras and came back with this fantastic caterpillar.  For once the markings and long hairs made it easy to ID.  It is an Alder Moth, last recorded on the reserve as an adult in 2008.

Alder Moth caterpillar

They also spotted a prominent moth sp caterpillar and it was photographed by Brian.  We will try to ID this moth.

Prominent moth sp caterpillar

 It is the time of year when early morning visits to the Crater, out on the training area, take place to ring the Meadow Pipits.  They come to the area to feed and the majority caught are juvenile birds.  So far they have been in short supply, but today the first one was caught! 

Meadow Pipit

And no apologies for another photograph of the third one ringed!  They are beautiful birds.

Meadow Pipit

Thank you to everyone for providing sightings and photographs for the blog.

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Herbivores

Saturday, August 29th 2015

Sunshine, showers, cloud and wind were all recorded at Foxglove today.  Strong winds and cool temperatures kept the insect life very quiet, but as soon as the sun came out and the temperature rose, so too did the insects.

Bees are very busy amongst the late summer flowers.  This one was feeding from Devil's Bit Scabious.

Bee on Devil's Bit Scabious

Hardheads are another good source of food for bees.

Bee on Hardheads

Peacock Butterflies also enjoy feeding from these plants.

Peacock butterfly on Hardheads

According to one source of information this Small Heath butterfly should no longer be on the wing.  Its flight season is from the third week in June to the end of the second week in August, although further south it can be seen into September.  Is this extension of its flight season due to climate change?  At this time of year all sightings of butterflies are dated and the information given to the recorder for VC65, at the end of the season.  It will be interesting to see if other sightings are reported.

Small Heath

Speckled Wood butterflies were only found in the south of the country but over a period of time have they have extended their range northwards.  They enjoy the sunshine and can be seen fluttering in any sunny spot.

Small Heath

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Bee Update

Friday, August 28th 2015

Unfortunately over the recent weeks our bee numbers have been dwindling. This is because we have had a hive without a queen. What happened to her we can only guess but the most probable cause is that she went out for a mating flight and was then predated or didn’t find her way back. So our bee keepers came today to re-introduce our old queen back to the hive. She had been happily building up her brood in another hive. So we took the observation hive apart paying careful attention to blocking up the holes to stop the visitors centre becoming full of bees.

Then we had to remove the old bees that will be taken to another hive and slowly introduced to them.

We then put our old queen back into the observation hive with a lot of her workers and frames containing stores and brood.

The observation hive was then brought back into the visitors centre and placed back where it belongs with the bees inside. The queen that has been brought back is the one we had a few months ago with a blue spot on her back meaning it is much easier to identify her.

We would once again like to thank our bee keepers Alison and Allister. It is only due to their continued support that we have a thriving observation bee hive at Foxglove.
 

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Burning and Mowing

Thursday, August 27th 2015

Over the past few weeks we have been very busy cutting down overhanging branches from paths and clearing shrubs from our heathland. Everything that is cut ends up in a large pile near the entrance gate to the reserve. The pile has been getting bigger and bigger, so the task of today’s volunteers was to get rid of some of the pile. This involves having a large bonfire which is a task many of the volunteers particularly enjoy.

Also today, Keith, a local farmer, came with his tractor and mower to start cutting our Wildflower Meadow. We have deliberately left this as late in the season as we can to allow the flowers to drop their seeds. 

Thanks to everyone who came to help out today. 

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August Antics

Wednesday, August 26th 2015

Today we held the final summer August Antics holiday activity for children. We took five children down to the pond dipping platforms to see what we could find lurking beneath the surface. Amongst other things we found lots of Sticklebacks and tiny Pond Skaters. The rain cleared just in time so we all managed to stay dry and have good fun.

Brian has been at it again searching the reserve high and low for different fungi. He found this Alder Tongue which is aptly named as it grows on Alder trees and as you can see has more than a fair resemblance to a tongue.


 

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Cake and Sunshine

Tuesday, August 25th 2015

It was a sunny day at Foxglove. Our volunteers turned out in force to spend more time tackling the overgrown Heathland. This involves removing all the invasive species that are threatening to overshadow the Heather.

With such a large workforce we got a big area cleared and the Heath is starting to look much better.

There are three birthdays amongst our staff and volunteers at Foxglove this week, so we celebrated with a large and very tasty cake, created by Felicity.

Thanks very much to all of you who came to help out- we achieved a lot today.

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One to Go

Tuesday, August 25th 2015

CES 11 was finally held yesterday.  One more to go!  It had been planned for Saturday but the forecast was for rain.  Sounds of rushing water along the becks met the ringers. The overnight heavy rain had left its mark down the slope to Risedale Beck.

Rain wash on slope to Risedale Beck

Droplets of water covered the vegetation and spiders webs but the sun rose and day was perfect for ringing.

Sun rise

As there was no wind the net was raised across the weir and almost immediately a juvenuile Grey Wagtail was caught.

Grey Wagtail juvenile

During the day there were several older birds processed including a Lotti (Long Tailed Tit) and Willow Warbler that were first ringed in 2013.  Both of these birds weigh less than 10g.   The Lotti braves our winters and the Willow Warbler heads south to return in the spring.  Chaffinches are returning to the back garden and 51 were recorded, including one ringed in 2008.

A Marsh Tit arrived and was checked and then excitement grew as we realised that this could be the bird that made the headlines earlier in the year.  We did not take photographs then but that was rectified!  It was initially ringed on 10th July 2004.  An amazing age for such a small bird.

The official photograph.

Marsh Tit

It is very difficult not to be anthropomorphic when looking at this photograph.  Don't I look good?  What is all the fuss about?  What are you looking at?

Marsh Tit

CES does not just happen, it takes organisation, including checking the weather, sending out emails, preparing net rides and filling feeders. 244 birds were eventually caught including 3 Kingfishers, 2 Spotted Flycatchers (unusually!), 8 Siskin - and Nuthatches, Treecreepers and Bullfinches.   The total of Blue Tits for the reserve moved above the 5000 mark and 27 different species were processed.  It was a long, busy day and the second highest total in 23 years for CES 11.  Many thanks go to everyone involved - after a 5.15 start it was 7pm when the Field Centre was finally closed!

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Moths

Sunday, August 23rd 2015

As long as the weather is 'good' the moth trap is set on a Tuesday night and the emptied on a Wednesday morning.  The moth team then spend time identifying the moths.  Some are easy to ID, like this Brimstone Moth.  These may also be seen on the front of the Field Centre.

Brimstone Moth

Antler Moths can fly by day feeding on thistle flowers, as well as come to the light of the moth trap.  These moths too are easy to ID.

Antler Moth

The flight season of Common Rustic  is July and August.  The larvae feed inside the stems of various grasses, including Cock's-foot and Tall Fescue.

Common Rustic

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Angelica

Saturday, August 22nd 2015

Angelica thrives at Foxglove and its white, sometimes pinkish flowers stand out amongst the other vegetation.

Angelica

Some plants can reach three metres in height.

Angelica

The almost flat topped flowers are ideal for insects.  Hoverflies feed on nectar, pollen and aphid honeydew.  The larvae are carnivorous.

Hoverfly

There are several species of hoverfly recorded on the species list.

Hoverfly

Other insects can also be observed, but not always identified.  The wings of this insect appeared beautifully coloured or was it a trick of the light?

Insect on Angelica

Yellow and black are warning colours, but not all insects coloured in this way are harmful to predators.

Insect on Angelica

Carnivorous insects, like this Soldier Beetle search for prey amongst the flower heads. 

Soldier Beetle

Spiders build their webs under the flower heads to catch their prey.  This web has also collected parts of the Angelica flowers.

Spider under Angelica flower

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Green Elf Cup

Friday, August 21st 2015

Brian has been rooting around in the undergrowth again and found some Green Elf Cup Fungi.  It’s a tiny little fungi that grows on decaying wood. The stunning blue-green cups can be stalked or unstalked and are only 2 - 6 mm in diameter.

He managed to take this fantastic photo showing the fruiting bodies. Most of the time you don't see the actual fruiting bodies but just the brilliantly green stained wood.
 

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Cutting Back

Thursday, August 20th 2015

Today our volunteers have been out on the reserve doing a variety of tasks to keep Foxglove looking tidy. We started the day mowing the bird ringing net rides, ready for CES bird ringing on Saturday. We then cleared overhanging vegetation that could get caught in the nets. Some of the net rides haven’t been used for a while and the one in the reed bed took quite a lot of time and work.

Afterwards we cleared grass and small shrubs from around the base of a number of small Juniper bushes near the lake. Juniper is very slow growing, and tends to get overshadowed by all the other vegetation that grows faster or higher than it does.

Thanks to everyone who came to help out today- it is always very much appreciated.

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Minibeast Safari

Wednesday, August 19th 2015

On Wednesdays during the summer holidays we hold activity mornings for any children that fancy coming along. Today’s event was a Minibeast Safari. Seven children and their parents and carers came along and we headed out into the sunshine to see what we could find. We overturned logs to reveal Snails, Slugs, Woodlice, Ground Beetles and Millipedes. The highlight was a large Leopard Slug.  Afterwards we placed sheets under the trees and shook the branches to reveal tiny green Spiders and Caterpillars. We finished the morning playing a camouflage game in the woods.

Last night we put the moth trap out so the children were able to see some of the species we find on the reserve.

Also today we had a wildflower walk, in conjunction with “Flowers of the Dales” where visitors were able to learn about the flowers on the reserve and help create a list of all the species found.

John, one of our volunteers conducts regular butterfly surveys on site. Today he found a record number of 13 different species.

A big thank you to everyone who helped out today.

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A Wet Tuesday

Tuesday, August 18th 2015

Foxglove today was very wet. This did not deter our hardy volunteers who still turned up in good numbers to work on the reserve. Some spent time strimming and mowing the entrance track and garden which now look very smart indeed. Others donned waterproofs and headed out with loppers, spades, forks and secateurs to the Heathland. In summer our Heathland plants are constantly becoming overgrown by small trees and shrubs such as Birch, Willow, Hazel and Hawthorn and keeping these under control is no mean feat. Without intervention our Heath soon looks like this.

After a day of clearing out the unwanted species, the areas we had done were looking much better.

To prevent regrowth, ideally each sapling must be pulled or dug up by the root which is time consuming and hard work.

Although there is still a way to go with this task, we are making good progress. Thank you very much to everyone who braved the rain today- jobs like this could not be done without your help. 

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Summer

Monday, August 17th 2015

Despite having a fairly cool summer, with not many hot and sunny days, today dawned bright and pleasant. One of our regular visitors brought in a few photographs that he had taken in recent weeks.  Butterfly numbers have been quite low due to cool temperatures this summer but he was lucky enough to find a Large Skipper and a Dark Green Fritillary.

On a sunny day, Foxglove is a delightful place to visit with a wide range of habitats. Visitors can find themselves wandering along a leafy green path by a stream one minute, then the next, out on a purple Heather covered heath or watching the Mallards swim peacefully on the lake.  The reserve is a mass of colour with wildflowers along the pathways and in our wildflower meadow.

If you haven't yet visited Foxglove, the next sunny summer's day is the perfect time to come!         

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Amazing Fauna

Sunday, August 16th 2015

As part of the Flagship Ponds, Martin Hammond has carried out surveys of the ponds on the wetland.  We are awaiting his report but he was most impressed with the species he found there.  Although the Water Voles can cause problems on the wetlands by digging their burrows through the bunds and therefore allowing the water to go where it should not, it was excellent news to hear that they are doing exceptionally well.  Water Voles are a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Away from the wetland the Wood Warbler caught during CES 10 is a Red Listed bird.  They are birds of Oak woodland, singing from high up in the trees but building their nests low in scrub or even on the ground.  It was mentioned that it was the first to be ringed at Foxglove, but also it is a new species for the reserve bringing the total of different species ringed to 84.

Another new species is a carnivorous shieldbug, although it also feeds on plants.  The Bronze Shieldbug (Troilus luridus) is an insect that lives in both deciduous and coniferous woodland.  This instar was found along Risedale Beck on one of the marker posts, so it had the best of both woodlands! 

Bronze Sheildbug

A beautiful insect was photographed on Angelica.  Initial ID suggests that it is a Noon Fly (Mesembrina meridiana).  Yet another new species.  Adults feed on nectar and the eggs are laid in cow dung.  Although one source of information says that larvae feed on cow dung, another says the larvae are carnivorous and feed on other larvae!

Noon Fly

In the moth trap was a White Plume Moth.  Our records show that this was first observed in July 2009.  This is only the fourth recording of this moth.

White Plume Moth

And finally an insect that rarely hangs around long enough to be photographed is a Common Hawker.  It was found in the vegetation near one of the ponds along Risedale Beck.  Since this photograph was taken there have been several sightings of a dragonfly hunting in this area.

Emperor Dragonfly Female

The larvae of the Emperor Dragonfly can spend two years in the pond, moulting ten to fifteen times before climbing out of the water onto vegetation to shed its last skin and emerge as an adult.  The photo below shows a dragonfly larva sp.

Dragonfly sp nymph/larvae

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Fantastic Flora

Saturday, August 15th 2015

Linda Robinson, the VC65 Botany recorder has visited Foxglove for several days to record the plant species on the reserve.  She has recorded over 390 species!  We would like to thank her for all her hard work.  (She would love to make it 400!)

So this blog is celebrating our fantastic flora!

Grass of Parnassus, which is flowering a little later this year is just beginning to burst bud.

Grass of Parnassus

Fleabane is very hard to miss in the Scrapes with its bright yellow flowers.  This plant provides bees, butterflies and hoverflies with nectar and pollen.

Fleabane

Red Bartsia is a semi parasitic plant and often overlooked.  It is now found in several places across the reserve.

Red Bartsia

 Another semi-parasitic plant is Eyebright seen growing on the moor and along path edges.

Eyebright

Water Figwort has a square winged stem and although the flowers are small the dark red colour stands out. If you look closely at the flower spike you will see flowers and seed heads.

Water Figwort

Many people see Greater Willowherb as a weed, but weeds are only plants that grow where we do not want them to.  It is showing its beautiful pink flowers around the Voley Ponds.

Greater Willowherb

Last but not least the spores on the ferns are beginning to mature.

Ripening spores on a fern frond

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A Wet Friday

Friday, August 14th 2015

Friday was a very wet day at Foxglove. It was a good day for catching up on office work, but it was not a good day for taking photographs on the reserve. Instead, here are a few of the more striking birds from our CES (Constant Effort Site) ringing day on Wednesday.

It is unusual to catch Sparrowhawks in mist nets as the larger females almost always bounce out of the net without getting caught. This was a particularly nice find and is a young first year male that will be only weeks out of the egg!

We also caught a Wood Warbler in one of the nets. This little warbler has a distinctly rich green back with a bright white belly. It has become increasingly scarce and this was the first one ever to have been caught at Foxglove.

During the day, one of the visitors brought us a photograph of a Kingfisher sitting on the “snakes head” wooden post down by the Lake Hide. This was installed specifically as a Kingfisher perch, but few people have actually seen it being used.

Bird ringing days at Foxglove are a good chance for visitors to see some of these striking birds close up and learn a bit more about them and the other birds they commonly see in their own gardens.  

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Lake Hide Clearance

Thursday, August 13th 2015

Today staff and volunteers have been very busy working in the area around the Lake Hide. The view from the hide was becoming obstructed by reeds and small trees.

By the end of the day much more of the lake was visible and now hopefully visitors will get better views of the Kingfishers and other wildlife that feed and live around the lake.

We also strimmed the vegetation on the new Wildfowl Feeding Area for the first time since it was planted. It is growing well and we hope it will soon be established enough for us to start selling duck food to scatter on the area from our new Wildfowl Feeding Platform. 

Thank you to those who came to help out today.  The view from the Hide looks much better!

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More Thistles

Tuesday, August 11th 2015

Today the volunteers have again been pulling up thistles. This task must seem never ending to those who come to help out every week.  The good news is that most of the thistles are now cleared, and the task is almost over as most of the remaining thistles are now seeding.

This morning we had a group of children from Looby Lou’s Nursery Kids Club, who enjoyed a morning of pond dipping and bug hunting, followed by a walk around the reserve.

Around the reserve today we spotted larvae of the Kidney-Spot Ladybird. These tiny insects live on the bark of Ash trees and look like tiny spiky hairbrushes.

Thanks to everyone who helped out today.
 

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A Mixed Monday

Monday, August 10th 2015

It was a mixed day at Foxglove today- the weather varied from bright, warm sunshine to dark grey clouds that deposited sudden heavy downpours upon us. Although this made planning the day quite tricky, there was plenty to be getting on with both inside and out. A rainy day is always a good chance to catch up with paperwork and tasks in the office.

Before the rain we were able to get out and cut the lawns around the Field Centre.  Afterwards we spent some time fixing some of the path edges that have become rotten and broken.

Whilst out and about today we found good numbers of Cinnabar caterpillars feeding on Ragwort.  These stripy yellow and black caterpillars will eventually turn into pretty red and black moths. 

We also found good numbers of Common Red Soldier Beetles, hunting for small insects amongst the Wild Angelica flowers. 

 

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Summer Flowers

Sunday, August 9th 2015

Thistles have been on the blog recently.  Although they are a food source for many bees and butterflies their seeds germinate easily and if left unchecked could cause serious problems.  Our thistles include Marsh, Creeping and Spear.  Another one was added to the list recently, Melancholy Thistle.  This plant was recorded on the species list but has not been seen for several years.  It is now growing in two places.  Why has it just appeared again?  Many suggestions have been put forward but so far we have not arrived at an answer.  Hopefully the seeds from these beautiful flowers will spread.  We will have to wait until next year.  At least we know where to look.

Melancholy Thistle

Hemp-agrimony and Agrimony share a name but  very little else.  Hemp-agrimony belongs to the Daisy family and is pink.  It grows in the Scrapes and can still be seen in flower well into September.

Hemp-agrimony

Agrimony is a tall yellow plant that belongs in the Rose family.  This plant can be seen along the access road.

Agrimony

Earlier in the year Wood Cranesbill was recorded.  Meadow Crane's-bill was seen during the last week.  Although both belong to the same family the spelling of cranesbill appears to be different!

Meadow Crane's-bill

Purple Loosestrife is showing its flower spikes amongst the reeds in the Scrapes.  The arrangement of the stigmas and stamens in different flower spikes ensure that the flowers are cross pollinated by the bees that come to feeed from them.

Purple Loosestrife

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Mixed Up Seasons?  Good News and Thanks!

Saturday, August 8th 2015

We assume that during the summer flowers are in full bloom and that autumn is the time for fruits, seeds and fungi.  A recent blog has already shown Hawthorn, Rowan and Raspberry in fruit.

Walking around the reserve, there is a mixture of new flowers just blooming, some setting seeds, fruit and fungi.

This Shaggy Inkcap was growing by the path.  It has been eaten, probably by slugs.  By tomorrow it will look totally different, dripping black liquid from its reduced cap.

Shaggy Ink Cap

These Crab Apples are not favoured by many animals and are often still on the ground well into winter.  We were told during the Festival of Nature that this tree, at the head of the Scrapes, is a true wild Crab Apple and not a cultivar.

Wild Crab Apple

Teasels are just beginning to show their tiny purple petals around part of the flower head.  The flower is never totally purple, always just part of it.  This plant provides food for bees now and into autumn seeds for Goldfinches.

Teasel

Pepper Saxifrage is spreading around the reserve.  It was named by Nicholas Culpeper in the 17th century, who thought that the roots had a hot aromatic taste and smell and that the flowers were good  for breaking up stony deposits in the body, like other saxifrage flowers.  Hence its name!  It is not a saxifrage, it is not peppery but belongs to the Apiaceae family.  (Umbelliferae before its name was changed!)  It is in full flower but some plants are producing seeds.

Pepper Saxifrage flowers

Pepper Saxifrage seeds.

Seeds of Pepper Saxifrage

So the seasons are not mixed up, just the cycle of life proceeding as it always does.

Some volunteers attended a course this morning about Pillwort, a fern, growing on the wetland, which has been mentioned on the blog in June this year.  This rare aquatic fern likes to grow on the edges of ponds, where there is mud and it enjoys cattle walking over it.  It does not like competition from other plants. 

Our wetland is a very special and fantastic habitat.  All the hard work of strimming, thistle pulling and cattle grazing is ensuring that it remains in excellent condition.

wetland

Our Treasurer has spent much of today counting coins from the Festival of Nature weekend.  A huge thank you to him for balancing the books!

The cafeteria raised £612.59, the raffle made over £400, whilst the entry tickets made £440.70.  This could only have been achieved by the hard work of the volunteers, a very special band of people with a multitude of skills.  Before the weekend paths were strimmed, overgrown plants were cut back, raffle prizes were sought, raffle tickets sold, displays organised, food collected, to name but a few of the tasks carried out.  During the weekend baking was done, children pond dipped and hunted for mini beasts,  dragonflies, damselflies, moths and butterflies were all recorded, not forgetting birds and fungi.  Visiting naturalists supported us throughout as did the bee keepers. Volunteers greeted visitors and made them feel welcome and showed them around ensuring everyone had a good time.

A huge thank you to everyone who helped prepare - and to the visitors.

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Kingfisher Sightings

Friday, August 7th 2015

Regular visitor and photographer Ian has been out and about taking pictures around the reserve. He was treated to some fantastic sightings of Kingfishers down on the lake.

The fantastic shot above was taken from the lake hide with a Kingfisher sitting on one of its favourite fishing perches on the green barriers in front of the hide. There are a lot of birds on the lake at the moment with regular sightings of Grey Herons, a family of Mallards, Moorhens and Little Grebe.

We would like to thank Ian for his fantastic photos. If anybody else takes any pictures of the wildlife here at Foxglove we would always like to see them.
 

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Walks and Work

Thursday, August 6th 2015

Yesterday members of Colburn and District Gardening Club visited Foxglove for an evening guided walk of the reserve. They were treated to good sightings of Roe Deer, both on the reserve and out on the training area.

Today visitors from the Defence Dental Service visited on a team day out, also for a guided walk. The deer were nowhere to be seen, but as it was a nice sunny day, there were good numbers of Dragonflies and Butterflies. A while was spent in the hides watching the Moorhens and Mallards on the lake. Sadly, despite fifteen pairs of keen eyes keeping a lookout, the Kingfisher was nowhere to be seen.

Meanwhile, our Thursday team of hard working volunteers spent the morning trimming back vegetation from the bird ringing net rides, and then had an afternoon in the workshop fixing some of the tools and giving it a much needed spring clean.

Thanks to everyone who helped out today.

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Heath Maintenance

Tuesday, August 4th 2015

Today the volunteers started the yearly task of invasive species removal from the heath. This involves pulling, digging and cutting out Silver Birch, Willow, Hawthorn and Gorse to stop them taking over the heath. It is hard but extremely valuable work to help us maintain our heathland habitat.

Our Dexter cows that normally live in the wetland decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the fence and made their way over to the far moor as the wetland gate had been left open. With the help of a couple of our volunteers we gently encouraged them back to where they belong. Please can we ask that whilst making your way around the reserve that you leave any gates as you found them.

Thank you to everyone who came and helped today; as always it is really appreciated.
 

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Fruits, Nuts and Seeds

Monday, August 3rd 2015

With August upon us already, the summer is passing rapidly.  Already many of the trees and plants around Foxglove have finished flowering and are now putting their effort into growing a variety of attractive nuts and seeds.

The Hazel bushes are supporting good numbers of chunky Hazelnuts

Wild Raspberries are abundant throughout the reserve

Our Crab Apple tree is covered in tiny apples

Some of the Hawthorn berries have started turning from green to red

Our Cherry tree has just one cherry

Although Autumn still feels a long way away, it is good to see such a variety of fruits, nuts and berries forming, to provide our birds and mammals with something to eat when the weather is cold and the days are short. 

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Beetles, Birds and Bees

Sunday, August 2nd 2015

It was wet and cool early this morning and nothing was stirring.  When rain and drizzle stopped and the temperature rose so there was some movement of the invertebrates.  Soldier Beetles are carnivorous and use the flat flower heads of Angelica (white) and Pepper Saxifrage (yellow) to await their favoured prey of soft bodied insects.

Soldier Beetles on Angelica

Soldier Beetles on Pepper Saxifrage

The flat velvety larvae have large jaws which are used to eat small insects and other invertebrates found in the surface layers of soil.  They feed from early summer through to spring, when they pupate.  May through to July is usually the best time to see these beetles. Their colouring acts as a warning to birds that they taste unpleasant.

Another insect that has warning colours is the Cinnabar Moth caterpillar.  During August the Ragwort around the reserve is normally covered with the black and yellow caterpillars.  Only one was recorded today.

Cinnabar Moth caterpillar on Ragwort

It is noticeable that the insect numbers are well down.  Unfortunately many birds did not rear young due to lack of suitable food.  Some of the Great Tits brought to the ringing room today showed that they had had some time in the nest when they had not been fed or were well under stress.  This was clearly shown by different coloured markings across their tails. The ringers call these fault bars.

Five new Garden Warblers were ringed today, which was good news as not many had been heard around the reserve.  There are still new Bullfinches in abundance and another 13 were ringed.  It is also lovely to see the Coal Tits returning after spending the spring and early summer breeding in the plantations.

As there was a glimmer of sunshine and another rise in temperature the bees were feeding.  You can see the white pollen sacs as the bee has been collecting pollen from Knapweed.

Bee on Knapweed

Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped carry out a variety of work today, including bird ringing, tea making and cutting back the evergrowing vegetation.

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Adam

Saturday, August 1st 2015

Adam has spent four years at Foxglove.  He is now taking a different path into teaching and we all wish him well.  Over the time Adam has worked at Foxglove he has been involved in all the activities, from moth mornings to flower walks, school visits and guided walks, to name but a few.

One of his first jobs was clearing the heath of invasive species.

Adam working on the heath

He joined the ringing team and made a valuable contribution to their work, gaining his C license.

Adam ringing

Ringing takes place at sites away from Foxglove and after only a few days at work he headed off for his first visit to Cape Wrath.  Several more followed.

Adam at Cape Wrath

Winter Worky Days saw many volunteers arrive ready to carry out habitat management.  The work done has benefited the flora and fauna.

Winter Worky Day on the far moor

A Bio-Blitz weekend in 2013 was followed by the Festival of Nature in 2015, both of which were organised by Adam and were a great success. 

This blog gives a very small insight into the tremendous work Adam has been involved in whilst he has been at Foxglove.  We greatly appreciate all of his effort and work and wish him well as he moves into his new career.

Many thanks and best wishes from everyone at Foxglove.

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